That is the lamest sounding bullshit EVER.
There were 2 reasons for me to stay.
They say (whoever “they” are) that moving is in the top three of most stressful life events, right behind death of a spouse and divorce. Show me a person who actually enjoys moving, and you might as well show me Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny…they are all figments of our imagination.
Never one to look on the dark side (HAHAHAHAHAHA) however, I do try to find the silver lining in the cloud of relocation.
It isn’t easy. Dealing with realtors sucks. Finding a mover is a nightmare. Packing blows, and unpacking is akin to medieval torture. However, there is one teeny, tiny spec of joy in the chaos that is packing up all of your worldly possessions and transporting them to a new location…throwing them the fuck away.
Don’t get me wrong, we all need things. A bed to sleep on, clothes to cover our bodies, something to eat off of, and an item or two to keep us entertained, to name a few. Then there are the sentimental items. The pictures, nick-knacks, tchotchkes, and other assorted paraphernalia of past lives that seem to grow as time goes on. There are also the collections. DVDs. Records. Your mom’s Precious Moments dolls. Dildos. These are like objects you go out of your way to accumulate in a pathetic attempt to have your material possessions make you seem like you are much cooler than you really are.
Well, ok your mom’s Precious Moments collection is lame as hell, but you get my point.
Finally, there are the miscellaneous items. We don’t know how we procured them, hell we may not even know what they are, but nevertheless, they’re ours. Another physical item that needs to be cleaned, stored, and transported.
I had a problem with all of this.
The fragments of my past have been slowly taking over every surface of our apartment. Our DVD collection was belligerent and numerous. We attempted to keep them orderly by packing them in special “DVD boxes” from Ikea. This helped us to keep the DVDs out of the way, but took up 3 shelves in a closet. Every plane in our dwelling seemed to be littered with some sort of candle-like substance, picture frame, or ethnic statue knockoff with remnants of the “Home Goods” label still affixed to the bottom.
It was madness, I tell you…madness.
Then we decided to move. Suddenly what is always a horrific incident of terror shone in a new, glittery and gay light. Instead of stressing over the moving process, I was going to embrace it. I was going to use this time to throw our shit away.
I was going to be ruthless. No picture frame was safe, no DVD could hide. It was going to be a glorious time of soul-cleansing home purification.
And it was.
At first, anyway.
To start off on the right foot, I attacked an area that would have a serious impact right away. I removed every picture frame from my “Family Gallery Wall,” took out the picture, placed it in an album, and threw the fucking picture frame away.
I have to admit it felt good! From there I moved into my kitchen. I tossed cookbooks that had never been cracked open, and fondue pots that never worked. I chucked a drawer full of kitchen gadgets that over the course of the year had somehow managed to become intertwined and turn into Meca-Gadget, the most useless monster on the planet.
No, despite my love of cooking and entertaining, if it hadn’t been used, had no discernible use, or became infused with it’s neighbor it was gone.
Next, I voraciously attacked the cabinets and tossed everything from the only glass left from a set of 8 to a gross amount of trifle bowls (what the hell is a trifle, anyway!?!)
Once the kitchen felt sufficiently barren, I moved on in a similar, “take no prisoners” fashion through every room in our apartment. With each bag of trash or box for donation, something miraculous happened.
I began to breathe easier.
It was as though removing the physical “stuff” from my life was lightening the emotional “stuff” as well. I was on a role, and very excited by the lack of moving boxes I seemed to require. This feel-good cleansing of the senses and spirit came to a screeching halt when I entered…the bedroom.
Now, you might think that it was my dresser or closet that gave me pause, or my boxes (and boxes) of shoes. It could very well have been the several bins of purses and other accessories that were hemorrhaging from under my bed. You might think that, but you would be wrong. I had no problem slashing my wardrobe, ditching my shoes, and bagging my bags. It was a project, yes, but staring at a streamlined closet of items I actually wear was a wonderful reward.
My nervous breakdown de jour came when I looked up at the shelving my husband had installed to house the Japanese teapot collection we had suddenly found ourselves in possession of post-wedding. So tormented about the future of these ceramic pots was I that I did the only rational thing possible…avoided them all together.
Remember that scene in “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” where the gangly protagonist
masterba, goes into a burning pet store and proceeds to save all of the animals?
You don’t? Fuck you, it’s my story. Humor me.
One by one Mr. Wee goes through the pet store and saves each animal grouping like some high-water wearing Noah. That is with the exception of a slimy cluster of snakes. Each time he passes the snake’s tank, he stares at it in disgust, and moves on to the next creature knowing that eventually he would have to contend with the slippery reptilian mass. The scene ends with him running out of the burning pet store screaming; a pile of snakes in each hand.
Those Japanese teapots were my snakes.
I did a fantastic job intentionally avoiding coming to a decision about their fate. In the beginning, it was easy to do. But with each bag of garbage and moving box marked “Fragile” (it’s Italian), I was one step closer to having to contend with my own reptilian mass…of porcelain.
That day came two days before we moved. The days leading up to it had been long and emotionally fraught. My husband and I were both close to our max stress level. We went from having all of the time in the world to “leisurely” move (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) to feeling incredibly behind as the result of another death in our family (yeah, we have that kind of luck!)
Two deaths in two months makes you realize that none of your stuff…
…actually matters in the grand scheme of things. Yes, this teapot collection that had been lugged around to five different apartments was a lovely reminder of my wedding day, but so was my husband, and he didn’t need to be wrapped in newspaper every time we moved, or dusted weekly (he’s very active, so the dust doesn’t have time to settle.)
There was a lot to do, and we were trying to get through everything without breaking down. I thought having my husband there as I executed my ruling on the teapots would be helpful. He is always the rational one. The practical one. The stone-cold emotionless “realistic” one. The one who wanted to keep the collection for sentimental reasons?!?
Oh hell no.
After torturing myself for WEEKS over what to do with those damn pots, I finally grabbed those snakes, and Mr. Suddenly Sentimental was NOT going to change my mind.
I did what any woman who was standing steadfast in her decision would have done in such a situation.
I stood there like a deer in headlights for what was probably a good ten minutes. I then threw out all of the rationalizations I had told myself as to why it was time to purge the pots. Unfortunately, the more he understood my reasoning, the more confused I became. The entire (dusty as hell) pot collection now sat on our bed. There was so much more to do; yet I felt paralyzed. The snakes had bit me. They had won.
I knew I couldn’t take any more time on this issue. I had already spent one breakdown too many on whether or not to part with one particular physical item or another. I needed to end this. Like pulling a bandage off a gunshot wound, I attacked the pile of pottery and threw them into a trash bag, a lump in my chest the entire time. I tied up the bag and added it to the pile of trash waiting to be removed from the house. It was finally over.
We have been settled in our new space for over a month now. It’s larger. It’s airy. It’s clutter-free.
I have not been this happy in a VERY long time.
I have by no means become a full-fledged “minimalist” but there is definitely something to be said for purifying your home of possessions and keeping the clutter at bay. I don’t know that it will necessarily lead to enlightenment, but it sure as hell keeps you from spending the weekend cleaning which opens up a world of possibility for you to go out and experience life rather than sit at home with your stuff.
I know that there is still a lot more that I can do. Two medium plastic boxes sit in my closet full of old journals/yearbooks/photos/Ghosts of Melissas Past that I can probably whittle to nothing, but I think I’ll save that for a day when I have nowhere to be and an extra bottle of gin lying around. Some snakes bite harder than others. I need to be prepared.
Making sure Mr. Sentimental has plans is probably not the worst idea either.
Hey, remember that time I was going to blog about making monthly changes in my life as a way to chronicle the lead up to the end of the world?
So things haven’t gone the way I initially had hoped, that is clear, but as I look back over the last 4 (!?!) months, they really haven’t been a total wash. To be honest, the only part that hasn’t worked out in this blogging experiment is, well, the blogging.
I have managed to maintain regular gym attendance; I have been eating healthier, and above all, I am a lot happier than I was when I set out on this quest. True, I’ve made some mistakes. Ok, I’ve made A LOT of mistakes, and I’m nowhere near as settled with the first three life switches as I had anticipated, but I am able to see where I exactly went careening into a ditch of failure, and much like Aaliyah, I have the desire to dust myself off and try again (wait, she’s….oh).
Here’s the thing, in order for this blog to even come close to accomplishing my drunken schemes, I obviously need to post more than once a month. I am going to need to actually chronicle the changes I have been making, and not just post a quarterly, “could we start again, please” check in.
I am going to have to keep…a schedule.
(Blood curdling scream)
As horrifying as it sounds to my, “all clocks should be taken out back and shot” sensibilities, the only way I am going to save this project from becoming just another pathetic, abandoned web-relic, is by creating a routine. I am going to have to stick to that routine, and as an added flame under my ass, I am going to have to disclose said routine. That way, all four of you bitches know what to expect, and you can call my lame ass out when you don’t get it.
So here it goes. I had originally set out to accomplish 12 life switches; one for each month left on earth before the dinosaurs come back and kill everyone except for Kirk Cameron and the founding family of the Westboro Baptist Church. In my mind (and on paper, even) I had all 12 of these worked out well before I hit “publish” on my first post. Obviously, we are 4 months in, so some modifications had to be made.
Moving forward, here is my plan. Much like the opinions of a certain presumptive presidential hopeful,
this plan is “etched” permanently in the paramagnetic particles of a baby boomer’s childhood toy.
Remaining Life Switches
April 19th until May 9th: Study and implement a more minimalist practice and lifestyle.
May 10th until May 31st: 21 Day detox. Why 21 days? Fuck you, that’s why.
Truth be told, I’ve done some pre-research (presearch?) on this, and after combing through several detox plans, the one I opted for seemed like it would least likely lead me to kill my entire family and everyone within a 30 mile radius. Take a moment to check it out. Who knows, you may want to take the journey with me!
I’ll also be taking the time to study vegan cooking and practice recipes to add to my repertoire.
June: Using what I learned in May about vegan cooking, put together an entire meal plan for the month. Additionally, build off of April’s minimalism by spending no money. Seek out free entertainment, drink at home with friends, catch up on reading and time with family.
July: Working off of June, continue to build and maintain my relationships with my chosen family. Celebrate my 6th year of marriage by having lots of sex (I’m sure y’all are going to LOVE reading about that!)
August: Take the last month of summer to reconnect with my childhood through my daughter, commune with nature. Limit time indoors and online. Slow down.
September: While my husband and daughter head back to school, my education will come from reading at least one book a week.
October: As if turning 33 wasn’t scary enough, I am going to use this month to constantly push my limits, step out of my comfort zone, and maybe even perform again.
November: To prepare for the holidays, another detox is in order. This one however will involve working on my mental toxins as well as my physical body.
December: Most people turn to religion at the end of their life, so with 21 days remaining until the zombie apocalypse, I am going to use this time to explore and experience various religions.
Ta-da. 8 ½ months of self-discovery and change all laid out for you to scrutinize.
Now, for the posting schedule, that is going to change SLIGHTLY each month. What won’t change is the amount of posts or which days. The topics however, will obviously change depending on the month’s switch. Regardless of the topic, you can expect a post from me on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
For example, for the remaining 3 hours in April, I will adhere to the following schedule*:
Monday: A recap of the weekend and where my adventures in minimalism took me.
Wednesday: What I am learning; thoughts and feelings about minimalist literature, blogs, etc.
Thursday: Mid-week minimalism; some minimalist action I took that day.
Friday: Free for all; check in on other switches I have turned on, random posts about life, or photos of drag queens.
There you have it, a solid framework sure to catapult this blog into an almost mediocre success. All of the pieces are laid out for me, now I just have to actually follow through.
Piece of cake.
No really, shut up.
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon
There are only so many, “oops my bad” intros I can have to explain away why, for all intents and purposes, this whole project is FUBAR, so I won’t even bother.
Suffice it to say I have always had the best of intentions for keeping up with this blog and its underlying theme. Unfortunately though, it would appear that intentions are like opinions, and well, we all know what they’re like.
You can have your life mapped out to the minute, but when the universe has something else in mind, (which she often does) that map becomes about as good as the theoretical paper it’s written on.
Indeed the universe was not impressed with my map and proved it by snatching it out of my hands, setting it on fire, and throwing it at my head.
In the plainest of terms, my life basically blew up in the last month, and I am just now clearing away the debris. This foundational explosion of my existence however, wasn’t all bad.
No, I am lying, it was really, really, REALLY bad…but not unlike the spectrum of light that appears through the clouds after a rainstorm, the aftermath is proving to be quite a thing of beauty.
Just over one month ago my husband’s grandfather by lineage but father by actions was taken to the hospital. It was clear that this was the beginning of the end. How soon that end was to be however came as quite a shock when he passed away just 12 days later.
You may ask why the death of my in-laws patriarch would rock my life in such a major way.
Or you may not, whatever, I am going to tell you anyway.
From the moment we were introduced he took me in as one of his own, but more than that, my daughter became his world.
I can still hear them playing up in his room, him trying to coax her to say, “I love you” and her dancing around, oblivious to the spell she had cast. Though her and Mama had become fast friends, Avie was incredibly coy with Papa for the first few months that he was in her life.
Our first Christmas as part of their family, I was able to convince Avie to record a message to Papa on an electronic picture frame. She simply said, “Hi Papa, I love you.”
When he opened the meager gift Christmas Eve, and was shown how to make the gadget work, he beamed. More than anything else that lay before him wrapped in shiny holiday paper, this gift was everything. He proceeded to play the message over…and over…and over, until I am pretty sure we all went to bed that night hearing, “Hi Papa, I love you… (click) Hi Papa, I love you…(click) Hi Papa…”
Avie and I came into his life when his health was starting its slow decline, but we were still lucky enough to bask in his presence and energy. And boy, what energy! Those early Sunday dinners, though nothing special gastronomically, were by far some the best memories I have of my in-laws. Sitting around the table, long after the pasta had cooled, and the vinaigrette had begun to congeal slightly at the bottom of the salad bowl, we would listen in awe, as Papa would regale us with amazing personal narratives that almost always seemed to end with him threatening someone’s life, or punching someone in the face.
Lingering over limoncello and legend became a regular Sunday affair and before long the sun was setting on our first summer together. J and I went to his grandparents for our usual visit one Sunday in August, but there was nothing usual about it. It was one of those late summer evenings where the air begins to hint at a cooler time to come, enticing you to squeeze all of the life you can out of the remaining daylight.
Dinner came with its customary show, but the real entertainment happened after the meal was over. J and I brought over a Dean Martin record that I had given him as an early token of our budding romance. While Mama did the dishes, J and I put the record on the turntable in the dining room. For a brief moment, the sounds of the Italian crooner drifted through the house and transported us all back to a different time. Through music and memory, J and I got to experience a sense of Mama and Papa’s early amore, all while living in the moment of our own. We danced and sang, we laughed and watched as, for a short while, any ailments that had steadily attempted to eat away at their already fragile bodies seemed to vanish, and through Dino’s words, they were again able to live la vita bella.
Time marched on, as it has a way of doing, and the Sunday dinners became fewer and far between. Soon, Mama and Papa required assistance in the house, and despite the fact that J’s mother took on the task; dinners were never quite the same as those first summer gatherings.
It’s easy to disassociate yourself from the reality of your loved ones failing health. Your own life becomes a distraction and before long 8 years have passed and you’re standing over the casket of someone you just kind of always expected to be there.
Though this wasn’t the first death I had experienced by far, it definitely hit me in a way that I wasn’t at all expecting. I have lost blood relatives of all ages. I’ve seen friends lose their parents, and I’ve cried over the loss of friends my own age. No death until now however has made me examine my own mortality in such an explicit manner. I don’t know if it’s just my age, but it’s as though Papa’s death has shifted all of us one step closer to the great precipice, and it became painfully clear that I am just not ready to fall to the other side.
I immediately took stock in my life at its current state. All of the parts that I had been unhappy about but felt too paralyzed to truly fix suddenly appeared in crystalline focus. One by one I placed each life fragment into two mental piles, “toss” or “change.” Obviously I can’t toss my health, but I can change the amount of exercise I get and what I ingest into my body. Despite the fact that school was an expensive commitment I had set up for myself, I had never been truly happy there, and as of late felt that it was more of a waste of time than anything. Though I worried about what my next steps would be were I to quit, and still worry, nevertheless I made the decision to put my MSW studies on hold. It has only been two weeks, but my general demeanor has lightened, and the load off my chest is immeasurable. I’ve been saying that I wanted to hone my photography skills for the better part of ever, but always seemed to find less constructive ways to occupy my free time. I’ve since been picking up my camera every chance that I get in an attempt to self-teach as much of the craft as I can. I honestly love it.
So, what does this all mean? Do my loved ones have to die in order for me to cut through my complacency and actually live rather than merely exist? Perhaps, but fuck, for their sake, I hope not! I prefer to think that this was just one unfortunate incident I needed to finally push myself in the direction I have been so afraid to move toward on my own. Papa’s life, more than his demise, has served as a reminder that it all really is fleeting, and it’s up to us to make our own memories, so that one day we too can sit around the dinner table regaling our grandchildren with stories of living la vita bella.
I hate February. I hate that it’s (usually) cold. I hate that it’s dark. I hate that no one can pronounce it correctly and that I feel like a freak when I do (it’s FebRUary, not FebUary, OK, bitches?)
Mostly, I hate the sense of utter despair that the month usually signifies. (I also hate that I dropped the “H” word like eleventy-billion times in this first paragraph. As a proponent of social justice and mom who constantly says, “That’s a strong word,” I need to check myself.)
Seriously though, FebRUary is cruel bitch. She tests your limits, and most of us don’t even have a number 2 pencil.
At this point in the year, we should be well on our way to being the change we saw at the bottom of our flute of Taittinger on 12/31. Our bad habits are bad memories, and our fitter, stronger, happier, more productive (robotic-sounding) selves are…fitter, stronger, happ…you get the point.
Damn you, italics and your emPHAsis of doom.
Yes, if we’ve all stuck to our resolutions up to this point, we should be over the 30-day hump and enjoying the fruits of our labor. Actions that seemed almost impossible only a month ago should be becoming second nature. Life is indeed going our way, and the best part about it…it’s ONLY FebRUary.
Wait. Only FebRUary!?! You mean I have to keep this ish up for the next 10 months!?!
Fuck me running…I’m tired of running!
Burning out is very possible in the month of FebRUary. See, everything was new in January. It was a challenge to be met, an adventure to behold. It was exciting and you were determined to NOT be one of those pathetic people who gave up on their resolution 2 weeks into the New Year.
When FebRUary first rolled around, you felt accomplished, maybe a little self-satisfied. YOU went to the gym almost every morning and saw people slowly start to drop off. YOU haven’t had one cigarette, even after you lost your job/significant other/home/best friend/cat. YOU haven’t had any sugar. YOU have been getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. YOU have refrained from killing since the end of last year.
YOU are golden. You so got this.
Until you realize that you don’t.
January was the honeymoon…FebRUary is the marriage. The long, day-to-day, monotonous, Nathan Lane crooning “Is That All There Is” in his most nasally, Jewiest of voices, “RESTOFYOURLIFE” kind of marriage.
It’s the recognition of that awesome thing you’ve been doing, well it’s still kind of cool, but you have to keep doing it…all the time.
In FebRUary, shit gets real. Most people won’t survive. They won’t completely give up, though. No, it will be a slow death throughout the short month.
Excuses will be made.
Poor decisions will become more regular.
Soon old habits will rear their ugly head, and the progress of January will fade faster than Nathan Lane’s appeal as a performer (it’s all I got right now).
It doesn’t have to be like this. Like any marriage, the trick is to keep it fresh.
Bring a friend into the picture (wait, what?) You know…to workout with.
Change up your routine. Try something new.
Above all, recognize that perfect is an absolute that only airbrushing and anorexia can attain. Mistakes will happen, but they don’t have to be the death of your success.
Like most marital missteps, they can leave you feeling stronger, more connected, and back on the road to blissville. (Pause to wipe the vomit from my keyboard.)
So as this short month rages on, don’t let the daunting prospect of having to keep your new life switches turned on indefinitely let you down. Continue to take things one day at a time (ba, ba, da, da) and it will be March before you know it, Ann Romano.
Long. Cold. March.
Meanwhile, how am I doing with my life switches? Ha. That’ll be the topic for my next post, “WHY THE FUCK DID I THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO CHRONICLE A YEARS WORTH OF RESOLUTIONS ON THE WORLD WIDE FUCKING WEB, and other assorted tales.”
Stay tuned. If anything, it’s guaranteed to make you feel good about your own pathetic existence!
Deep audible sigh.
That’s how long it’s been since I’ve been to the gym.
That’s how long it’s been since I’ve attempted to write anything substantial.
That’s how long it’s been since I felt in the groove of my own life (whatever the fuck that means.)
Don’t get me wrong. I have completely legitimate reasons for why I not only lost my path; I went careening into a ditch. For one, I have been fighting a major infection. My husband, my gym partner in crime, was also fairly ill last week. Tuesday was a busy day, complete with a final trip to criminal court for a civil disobedience arrest that occurred during the NY marriage equality push, an incredibly intense interview for a new field placement, and a rally in front of Governor Cuomo’s office for homeless youth funding that lead up to, yep, another civil disobedience arrest.
I have had some serious anxiety and mild depression over wanting to move, and the lack of affordable apartments in my area. This culminated in pretty much a major, albeit brief, nervous breakdown on Thursday, where I blamed
I have made over the last 10+ years for the shit show that my life is now. J’s illness + my melodrama = big ol’ fight in the Casa de Us. We’re both Italian and stubborn as fuck, so needless to say, that pretty much ate a good portion of the weekend.
Saturday, I had to go put on a happy face at an event for my daughter’s school.
I am the President-elect of the PTSO (pause for raucous laughter) and had to serve as a judge’s assistant for a chili cook off (pause for even more laughter.)
Fortunately, sneaking in a 6 pack of Hoegaarden makes EVERYTHING better.
Oh, and I watched about 9 hours of Shameless. (Which EVERYONE should watch, and commit certain scenes to memory.)
So, in 7 days my routine jumped the tracks, slammed into the side of a mountain, and caught fire. By now I should be into my 3rd week of this new routine. I should have posted a recap about Week One’s progress (not to mention, Week Two.) Instead, I am sitting here pissed off at the lost time, angry at the fact that I have to basically start from scratch, and scared that I will get derailed again because classes start up next week, and my schedule will get pretty serious.
These are all feelings that I didn’t want to feel. When I set out to accomplish 12 life switches in 12 months, the last thing I wanted was for it to make my life more difficult. These changes are supposed to ENHANCE my life, not cause more problems. I stewed in these feelings for a while.
Then I watched another episode of Shameless.
As I sat watching William H. Macy drink himself into a stupor for the eleventy-billionth time, I had an epiphany that had absolutely NOTHING to do with watching William H. Macy drink himself into a stupor for the eleventy-billionth time.
And you thought I was going to make a connection to the show…
Illnesses will happen.
Arguments will happen.
Sudden mental breakdowns and feelings of utter inadequacy will happen (although Christ, I hope not that often).
Chili cook offs will happen (see above).
We can make the choice of going all shrunken violet emo crazy chick who throws her hands up in the air (and waves ’em like she just don’t…wait, what) and gives up, or we can acknowledge that much of this crazy little thing called life is out of our control.
The best we can do is move forward.
I am sitting here with the sinus infection of the ages. I did not make it to the gym today.
I already know that I won’t make it to the gym tomorrow morning either. I have to be up at O’Dark:30to get on a train and head to Trenton where I will be rallying for Marriage Equality and NOT getting arrested (I promise.)
There is still a part of me that feels like I am failing this whole project. I could honor that dark voice and let it take over my thinking. Or I could tell it to sit the fuck down, and shut the fuck up. I’ll go to the gym when I get home in the evening.
And if I don’t, that’s OK too. Wednesday morning is another day.
We’re all doing the best that we can on this rotating sphere of water, rock, and gas. We face obstacles. We make mistakes. The last thing we should be is our harshest critic. We can do our best, but understand that sometimes our best just won’t be good enough, and we will always have the option of trying again tomorrow.
Having a pity party for what should have been is about as useful as tits on a nun. So the next time you feel like going all William H. Macy and drinking yourself into a stupor of shame, get the fuck over it.
The sun will come out tomorrow, Annie, and with that flaming ball of gas, a chance for you to try, try again.